Bang! A side door bursts open.
Soldiers pour into the room. They're shouting and waving rifles.
I shield my head with my arms. It was a lie! I think, my mind racing.
Girls and boys alike are screaming. The soldiers prod and herd some of us together and push the rest apart as if we're cows or goats.
Their leader, though, is a middle-aged man. He's moving slowly, intently, not dashing around like the others. "Take the boys only, Win Min," I overhear him telling a tall, gangly soldier. "Make them obey."
Chiko isn't a fighter by nature. He's a book-loving Burmese boy whose father, a doctor, is in prison for resisting the government. Tu Reh, on the other hand, wants to fight for freedom after watching Burmese soldiers destroy his Karenni family's home and bamboo fields. Timidity becomes courage and anger becomes compassion as each boy is changed by unlikely friendships formed under extreme circumstances.
This coming-of-age novel takes place against the political and military backdrop of modern-day Burma. Narrated by two teenagers on opposing sides of the conflict between the Burmese government and the Karenni, one of the many ethnic minorities in Burma, Bamboo People explores the nature of violence, power, and prejudice.
"Though occasionally didactic and a bit preachy, this is nevertheless a story that invites discussion of the realities of warfare rooted in long-standing antagonism and unreasoning hatred of the other. Grades 5-8." - Booklist
"While Perkins doesn't sugarcoat her subject coming of age in a brutal, fascistic society this is a gentle story with a lot of heart, suitable for younger readers than the subject matter might suggest." - Kirkus Reviews
"Starred Review. Perkins delivers a graceful exploration of the redemptive power of love, family, and friendship under untenable circumstances. Ages 1114." - Publishers Weekly
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A Junior Library Guild Selection and a Summer 2010 Indie Next Pick.
Mitali Perkins (mitaliperkins.com) was born in Kolkata, India and immigrated at age seven to the United States with her family. Her award-winning books for young readers include Monsoon Summer, Rickshaw Girl, Secret Keeper, and the First Daughter books. Mitali speaks frequently about the transforming power of stories as well as growing up between cultures. She lives in Newton, Massachusetts with her husband, sons, and Labrador retrievers.
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